Juglans x paradox Burbank | Tonewood Profile | ”Bastogne/Paradox Walnut”
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Bastogne Walnut technically refers to the paradox hydrid which is J. hindsii x J. regia. There are other hybrids which exist such as J. ailantifolia x J. cinerea, J. nigra x J. regia, J. hindsii x J. nigra to name a few.
To start with, I’ll just run through a few of the scientific and common names for the various walnuts.
- Juglans regia— common walnut, Persian, English or Carpathian walnut
- J. californica S.Wats. — California Black Walnut
- J. hindsii — Hinds’ Black Walnut- most commonly called Claro walnut
- J. nigra L. — Eastern Black Walnut
Luther Burbank attempted to create a fast-growing hardwood by cultivating hybrids of English (J. regia) and Claro walnut (J. hindsii). [Our research is unable to determine if Burbank actually hybridized these strains or he discovered a naturally hybridized tree].
There are several theories how the tree received the Paradox moniker. One is that hardwoods conventionally take a long time to grow and mature hence, a fast-growing hardwood is a paradox. Another possible paradox is a naturally occurring hybrid which does not display characteristics of either of its parents.
It has more recently been marketed as Bastogne, a more elegant French term derived for ‘Bastard’ due to it’s heritage. What is certain is that Burbank succeeded in cultivating his Paradox walnut and it still stands at the Luther Burbank Homes and Gardens.
Bastogne Walnut matures quickly, anywhere from 20 to 80 years and grows much larger than either of it’s parents. In addition, to producing few fruits [some trees produce non at all!], it is sterile and unable to reproduce naturally.
Bastogne Walnut is not currently endangered- it is cultivated for it’s physical and growth characteristics.
As a tonewood…
I have played a number of Bastogne Walnut and tonally it rivals the best Indian Rosewood in terms of overtones but it retains a stronger mid range and a fundamental. What I found attractive about these guitars is the projection, which is within the realms of a mahogany guitar.
George Lowden again: “Because of the hardness it gives a very defined clear sound, great for most playing styes except perhaps flat picking where you might prefer to use a rosewood for that ‘thicker’ lower mid range. I love walnut as a tonewood, particularly good with redwood tops and sitka in mid sized, and cedar in large guitars. In small guitars it works well with cedar also.“.
Similar woods/ Alternatives
Claro and English walnut, the parent stock are both similar.
Here is a lovely 12 fret 00 by Dennis Kwasnycia with a Bastogne Walnut back
Fine woodworking: encyclopedia of wood
George Lowden, Lowden Guitars
Pictures copyright individual holders. Bastogne Walnut picture courtesy of Allied Lutherie.
Dennis Kwasnycia: http://www.kwasnyciaguitars.com/
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